The Connor Brothers
The Connor Brothers is the pseudonym for British artists Mike Snelle (1976, left on the picture) and James Golding (1974). They met each other during their studies in Cambridge. In their works they have embraced the collage technique because the layered, fragmented form allows them to transform the meaning of vintage romance novels and old master paintings.
Their clever and witty pieces are steeped in references to both historical and popular culture and depict an almost anthropological view of modern western society. The goal of their work is to provide a humorous commentary on human obsession with money, beauty, fame, and the unrealistic visions of relationships.
Originally, the Connors Brothers presented themselves as American twins. In this fabrication they told they were Franklyn and Brendan Connor, brought up within a pseudo-Christian cult known as The Family whose leader, David Berg, preached and practiced a fanatical, perverse form of Christianity. They stated that at the age of 16 they escaped to New York, where they developed a methodology to understanding the outside world, wherein they would each explore their surroundings and share their discoveries with each other through their notebooks and sketchpads.
In 2014, their real identity and working place – how British: a studio in a converted pub next to a betting shop, on a traffic-choked street in Hackney, east London – were published in an article in the weekend magazine of British daily paper The Telegraph. The pair are known for their playful hoaxes as well. They have created a fictional museum – The Hanbury Collection, which fused truth and fiction in such a way as to render it impossible to work out which exhibits were real and which were not. This obsession with truth and fiction can be seen throughout their work, and is particularly relevant in the current climate of fake news.
Mike Snelle and James Golding are also activists. They have been amongst the most prominent artistic voices to comment on the refugee crisis. The duo worked for several years in The Jungle refugee camp in Calais building shelters and undertook an international billboard campaign highlighting the plight of displaced people. They are closely associated with the Russian activist group Pussy Riot.
The Connor Brothers have exhibited in New York, Sydney, Dubai, London, Hong Kong and Berlin. Their works can also be found in major public and private collections including The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Penguin Collection and both the Omar Koch and Niarchos Collections.